Those people who do not have any food allergies are free to eat what they please and do not have to live in fear that their next meal might be their last. This however is not the case for those people who do have allergies to certain foods. People with food allergies constantly struggle with knowing whether or not the food that they are about to eat is going to make them sick or even lead to their death. This fear is made worse when they eat out at restaurants. At restaurants they have little control over the preparation of the food they are about to eat. In some cases servers are not sure how to correctly convey the allergy related preparation instructions to the person cooking the food. Also, in many instances the person cooking the food does not have the proper allergen awareness training to prepare the food in a manner that is safe for the person with the food allergy to eat. It is a very dangerous game that restaurants knowingly or unknowingly are taking part in. Granted it is the responsibility of the person with food allergies to inform the restaurant that they do indeed have a food allergy but that is in no way guaranteeing that the food they are about to eat is safe.
One state however has decided to get smart about food allergies and has passed a law aimed at keeping those people with food allergies safe when they eat out. Massachusetts recently passed M.G.L. c. 140, which requires all restaurants to have a person on staff that has been certified as a food protection manager. This regulation is aimed at educating food preparation staff of the dangers of food allergies and how to make sure that food being prepared for a person with food allergies is safe for them to eat. The law also states that the training needs to be completed by February 1, 2011. Those who do end up taking the training will be certified for five years. After the five year time period the food protection manager will have to take the course over again so that they can become re-certified.
But this raises the question of how people in the food service industry are supposed to go about getting certified as food protection managers? The state of Massachusetts has approved only three vendors to provide the food allergen awareness training. These vendors either provide the required training via a video and certification process or through a classroom training course and certification process. The courses are designed to provide food service workers with information about various food allergies and celiac disease related food intolerance. It also includes information on celiac disease, crucial food allergens, and the types of allergic reactions people can experience due to food. Lastly, the course informs food service workers on how to educate patrons about food allergies and what they should do if someone does end up having an allergic reaction while in their establishment. Overall the food allergen certification process is designed to make it much safer for those with food allergies to eat in restaurants in Massachusetts.
Out of the three vendors providing the food allergen certification training I have found that CompuWorks provides the easiest and best option for completing the training. Their training consists of a video that can be easily watched from any computer and at the successful completion of the course they provide you with the ability of instantly printing your certificate. Some of the other vendors do not provide this convenience and make you wait up to 10 days to receive your completion certificate. When it comes to proving compliance it is much better to choose the option that offers instant proof as opposed to having to wait and rely on the mail for delivery.